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Pension Plan Characteristics and Framing Effects in Employee Savings Behavior

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  • David Card
  • Michael Ransom

Abstract

In this paper we document the importance of framing effects in the retirement savings decisions of college professors. Pensions in many post-secondary institutions are funded by a combination of an employer contribution and a mandatory employee contribution. Employees can also make tax-deferred contributions to a supplemental savings account. A standard lifecycle savings model predicts a "dollar-for-dollar" tradeoff between supplemental savings and the combined regular pension contributions made on behalf of an employee. Contrary to this prediction, we estimate that each additional dollar of employee contributions leads to a 70 cent reduction in supplemental savings, whereas each dollar of employer contributions generates only a 30 cent reduction. The asymmetry - which is consistent with different "mental accounts" for employer and employee contributions - provides further evidence of the sensitivity of individual savings decisions to the precise details of their pension plan.

Suggested Citation

  • David Card & Michael Ransom, 2007. "Pension Plan Characteristics and Framing Effects in Employee Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 13275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13275
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Luca Agnello & Nikola Altiparmakov & Michal Andrle & Maria Grazia Attinasi & Jan Babecký & Salvador Barrios & John Bluedorn & Vladimir Borgy & Othman Bouabdallah & Andries Brandsma & Adi Brender & Vít, 2016. "Beyond the austerity dispute: new priorities for fiscal policy," Workshop and Conferences 20, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    2. Kooreman, Peter & Melenberg, Bertrand & Prast, Henriëtte M. & Vellekoop, Nathanaël, 2013. "Framing Effects in an Employee Savings Scheme: A Non-Parametric Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 7154, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2011. "Behavioral economics perspectives on public sector pension plans," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(02), pages 315-336, April.
    4. Cory Koedel & Shawn Ni & Michael Podgursky, 2014. "Who Benefits from Pension Enhancements?," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 9(2), pages 165-192, March.
    5. Lauren A. Mayer & Angela Hung & Joanne K. Yoong & Jack Clift & Caroline Tassot, 2013. "Designing Better Pension Benefits Statements Current Status, Best Practices and Insights from the Field of Judgment and Decisionmaking," Working Papers WR-951, RAND Corporation.
    6. Beatty, Timothy K.M. & Blow, Laura & Crossley, Thomas F. & O'Dea, Cormac, 2014. "Cash by any other name? Evidence on labeling from the UK Winter Fuel Payment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 86-96.
    7. James Alm & Carolyn J. Bourdeaux, 2013. "Applying Behavioral Economics to the Public Sector," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 206(3), pages 91-134, September.
    8. Dillingh, Rik, 2016. "Empirical essays on behavioral economics and lifecycle decisions," Other publications TiSEM 0e2143e3-bd86-4302-90eb-e, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    9. repec:eee:labeco:v:47:y:2017:i:c:p:48-63 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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